M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen ensured that both EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs finished inside the overall top-five at this weekend’s Rally Chile – the Welshman securing fourth place with the Finn just behind in fifth.
Evans had the potential to be in the fight for another podium – he and co-driver Scott Martin showcasing some promising speed. Posting a number of top-three stage times, the pairing were also just 0.7 seconds adrift of the stage win through the challenging conditions of Pelun 2 (SS12).
But as the event wore on, the Welshman was unable to match the leaders and struggling for confidence and stability in the particularly high-speed sections. Yet despite having to settle for fourth place, Evans delivered a clean and clever drive and secured some good points for his championship campaign.
It took Suninen a little longer to find his confidence in the tricky conditions, but the young Finn got better and better as the event progressed. Having the upper hand over Andreas Mikkelsen yesterday, he established a comfortable lead over the more experienced Norwegian before setting his sights on a final fight with fellow Finn Esapekka Lappi.
The battling duo were separated by just 10 seconds going into today’s opening speed test, but Suninen and co-driver Marko Salminen impressed again. Setting top-five times on three of the day’s four stages, the pairing missed out on a Power Stage point by just 1.3 seconds and extended their lead over Lappi to half a minute.
Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“To finish with both cars in the top-five is definitely a good result, but it’s also been a bit of a frustrating weekend as I think we were capable of more. Both drivers delivered clean and tidy performances, and we were able to show some good speed at times, but we just didn’t have the consistency to challenge for the podium.
“Having said that said, we have secured a good haul of points. Elfyn is looking good in his championship fight with Kris [Meeke], and Teemu got better and better as the event wore on – coming out on top in his battle with [Esapekka] Lappi and posting top-five times on three of the four stages today.
“I also have to say what a fantastic show Chile has put on for us this weekend. The atmosphere at the ceremonial start was something exceptional and you really can feel the passion and excitement that everyone here has for their motorsport.”
Elfyn Evans (4th) said:
“It’s been a difficult rally and there were some places where we struggled for sure. But overall, it hasn’t been too bad. We managed to stay out of trouble and had some pretty good pace on Saturday. But we just weren’t 100 percent confident and couldn’t find the last little pieces we needed to fight for the podium. With some big gaps ahead and behind it was all about bringing the car safely home today, and fourth place is definitely a good end to a difficult rally.”
Teemu Suninen (5th) said:
“It has been a difficult rally, but we have improved a lot. I was struggling a bit with the rhythm in the beginning and didn’t have the confidence to push the limits. But it got better and better as the weekend went on and we were able to set some really good times today. I think fifth place is a good result at the end of a difficult weekend.”
1. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:15:53.8
2. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Citroen C3 WRC) +23.1
3. Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +30.2
4. Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:36.7
5. Teemu Suninen / Marko Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:15.6
6. Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferme (Citroen C3 WRC) +3:45.4
7. Andreas Mikkelsen / Andreas Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +4:39.0
8. Kris Meeke / Sebastian Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +7:33.4
9. Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) +7:52.5
10. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 R5) +8:16.1